A letter from Shikha Chaudhry of NewsBytes on their one year of completion

A Letter from Shikha Chaudhry of NewsBytes on Their One Year of Completion

When we completed a year at NewsBytes, we thought of celebrating it in an unconventional manner this time around. The fact that we had completed the longest year of our lives unscathed in body and spirit was enough to make us high; so certain organic liquids were off the table. After all, we didn’t want the hangover to end in just a day!

All of us unanimously decided against having a private party as we spend all our waking hours together, we end up discussing the same stuff and we already finish off each others’ sentences. Boredom from seeing the same faces is a real thing, look it up! We kept thinking of ideas, we kept discarding each one of them. We wanted to have an extra-ordinary day, but in a cozy way; we wanted to yell on top of our lungs that we survived this year, but in a quiet way; we wanted this, but with that! We were soon running out of ideas. And then all of a sudden, we had our moment of epiphany.

The intellectuals that we are, or the intellectuals that we pretend we are; we thought to celebrate it with all of those who kept us on our toes this entire year, who are in the same boat as ours (the size of their boat notwithstanding), all those who kept us going by kicking the sh*& out of us, all of those who helped us in building NewsBytes – our esteemed competitors!

We thought of conducting a cozy event with everyone who is in the same space as ours – the content business, with a Capital C. From there, we started off the preparation. We had exactly 7 days! The list of the who’s who of content space was made, it looked extremely ambitious, nonetheless we decided to take our chances, we sent a rather emotional (heartfelt!) email to each one of them. And, then we waited. In less than 24 hours, we got confirmation from Mr. Abhinandan Sekhri, co-founder and CEO of Newslaundry. He was the first one to confirm. We thought we got lucky with him. We were anxious how we would do justice to him. So, we decided to call Mr. Rajesh Sawhney, co-founder InnerChef. He is our first angel investor (with actual wings!) and we know we can take any kind of liberty with him. He readily agreed.

Over a period of next 2 days, we received confirmation from almost everyone whom we had reached out to. In total, we now had confirmation from Mr. Sattvik Mishra, CEO ScoopWhoop; Mr. Angad Bhatia, CEO MensXP; Mr. Pranav Dixit, Executive Editor FactorDaily; Mr. Samarth Sharma alias TheLyingLama in Twitter world; Mr. Ramanuj Mukherjee, co-founder iPleader; Ms. Medha Mukerji, Founder Feministaa and Mr. Akhil Singh, co-founder AwareMonk. We knew we could not get lucky 7 times. And, this further reaffirmed our age-old belief – entrepreneurs are an easy lot, they have no hang-ups and absolutely zero ego perhaps because everyone around them makes sure to quash their egos on a daily basis! Anyway, we were all set now. We had to look for a decent venue. Our friend, Uday Lakkar, founder CoHo was kind enough to offer one of his properties. InnerChef agreed to provide the scrumptious food. Other logistics issues were handled. We decided on the agenda of the evening, we sent out invitations to the near and dear ones who all happen to be entrepreneurs. We eagerly waited for 18th June.

And, what an evening it was. I could not have asked for more. The whole place beamed with so much energy! So many ideas were discussed, constructive arguments happened, everyone had a point of view about content space and they were not shy to share it out loud. They discussed their journeys, they threw light on how they perceive the future, they gave pointers to us, they pointed out our mistakes and listened with rapt attention what we are doing right.

For anyone who wants to start in the content space, here are the 9 key takeaways: Whether we acknowledge it or not, the videos would change the game in the next few years. Both Sattvik and Angad agreed on this. The investors and entrepreneurs view the same space in an entirely different way. While Abhinandan maintained that there is no magic formula to create viral content, Mr. Sawhney said that data should guide creative people, much like others. He argued that Netflix and HBO continued to churn out one viral content after another, based on the humungous amount of data they study. If a news brand wants to leverage the power of social media, it should either be fast enough to break the news or deep enough to cover niche news. Only those brands would survive, argued the Twitter legend Samarth. Sattvik from ScoopWhoop admitted that BuzzFeed of India is BuzzFeed, but there is enough space for at least 6-7 companies to survive. The winner-takes-it-all approach is certainly not true for Indian markets. Angad had a very interesting perspective on destination apps. When a content company thinks of distributing its content everywhere, it should be mindful of ways to monetize it. He maintained that every start-up, big or small, should think of monetization.

Ms. Medha, who believed that going viral is not the only way to gain popularity, revealed that their golden mantra at Feministaa is to tell beautiful and inspiring stories. Everyone needs motivation and people connect with stories. That is their way to grow a business organically. Everyone seemed to agree that apps would see a natural death. It is imperative to distribute content across various social media platforms. With the penetration of bots, it will be a big challenge for the app only companies.

Ramanuj from iPleaders maintained that the content business can be started and scaled even by using simple WordPress and related tools. If you have a technical handicap, that shouldn’t deter you from starting up.

Final word of advice from Mr. Sawhney:

For a start-up like NewsBytes, neither scale nor monetization is important. The start-up should rather work on impressing its user base, wow-ing them, if you may!

Interesting fact: Almost 90% of the editors at all the leading content houses are women, including MensXP. Strange but true! In my humble view that is what entrepreneurship is all about. No one is going to become big by stomping, pushing or shoving. There is enough playing field for all of us. We just need the right tools. I don’t know about others, I know I went home a lot smarter. I also know alcohol is not the only thing which makes you high!

Shikha Chaudhry

Co-founder, NewsBytes


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